GRANITE CITY – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is calling on Illinois’ newest Congressional members to join the federal Defense Communities Caucus, a group tasked with protecting military installations and surrounding communities nationwide. Simon’s call came as she convened the state’s military base retention committee at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) today.
“The military bases and installations across our state provide a great service to our country, and are also fundamentally important to our local economies,” Lt. Governor Simon said. “At every level of government, we must advocate to keep our installations active and make sure the voices of our troops, their families and our defense communities are heard.”
Simon serves as the chairperson for Illinois’ Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), which coordinates the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases. Simon said the state committee could work with the federal caucus to support policies to keep Illinois bases strong.
In an effort to encourage Illinois’ newest Congressional members to join the caucus, Simon will send letters to new Reps. Cheri Bustos, Bill Enyart and Brad Schneider to highlight the importance of our state’s military bases and their impact on the local economy and invite them to participate in defense community listening posts later this year. These three Representatives’ districts include Illinois’ largest military installations: Rock Island Arsenal, Scott Air Force Base, and Naval Station Great Lakes, respectively.
Simon said the Defense Communities Caucus can act as a unified, bipartisan voice for communities nationwide with active, closed or closing military installations. The caucus’ advocacy could help pave the way for partnerships among the private, public and military sectors that could create jobs or ensure federal tax dollars are used efficiently.
“As the federal budget is considered, we must keep in mind the value that our defense communities bring to our local economies and work to ensure that they remain strong and efficient to meet our state and country’s needs,” Simon said.
The IMBSEDC holds quarterly meetings across the state and selected SWIC as the location for its first meeting of the year because of its proximity to Scott Air Force Base.